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Small trucks and SUVs have become increasingly more popular in recent years for their higher seating position, their safety profile, and their roomy interior. However, a recent report suggests that SUVs are responsible for the recent spike in pedestrian fatalities across the country. In fact, in 2016 alone, close to 6,000 pedestrians were fatally injured in car accidents involving SUVs. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the number of pedestrians fatally injured by an SUV increased by a staggering 81 percent from 2009 to 2016.

What Makes SUVs Fatal?

SUVs are larger in size and mass than the typical passenger vehicle. However, this is not what makes these vehicles particularly dangerous to pedestrians. It is the height and front-end design that can cause such devastating, fatal injuries if a pedestrian is struck by an SUV. When a smaller passenger vehicle hits a pedestrian, it usually impacts the legs and the lower part of the body. Oftentimes, the victim is thrown over the hood of the car. However, an SUV is more likely to hit a pedestrian in the head or chest, causing severe injuries, including brain damage, organ damage, and fatality.

The report also found that safety officials were aware that SUVs were more dangerous than cars in accidents involving pedestrians. In a 2015 report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), reporters found the following statistics about the dangers of SUVs and why pedestrians should be extremely careful:

  • Pedestrians, including walkers and joggers, are up to three times more likely to be fatally injured after being struck by an SUV, compared to being hit by a car.
  • While SUVs and trucks were involved in one-third of pedestrian injuries, they were responsible for 40 percent of fatalities.
  • Since the NHTSA’s 2015 report, the number of SUVs on the roads has continued to grow.

To prevent these devastating accidents from continuing to occur, there are several things that cities with large pedestrian populations can do. Lowering speed limits, training cab, and ride-sharing drivers, reducing the number of lanes on busy roads, and adding pedestrian refuge islands and additional streetlights are just a few examples. Stricter laws against texting while crossing streets can be enforced as well.

Reporters also believe that SUVs should come equipped with advanced safety features that can help reduce the number of pedestrian fatalities. For example, researchers from the U.S. Department of Transportation believe that automatic emergency braking can prevent more than 800 pedestrian fatalities each year. In addition, added padding to the bumper area can absorb some of the impacts, which can result in less severe injuries to the head and neck.

If you’ve been involved in an SUV pedestrian accident contact the law office of Negrete Law Firm at 602-495-1005.

pedestrians, cops and driver stand around an SUV after an accident

credit: Bryan J. Chant

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